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MANILA, Philippines – Ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s expected visit to Vietnam in late January, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday, January 23, met with and briefed Vietnamese officials on “its current engagement and maritime security operations in the West Philippine Sea.”
In a release, the PCG said Vietnam’s Standing Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu visited its headquarters, alongside Vietnamese Ambassador to Manila Dr. Lai Thai Binh, and other other top officials from the Vietnamese embassy here.
During the meeting, the two countries talked about a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between its two coast guards. Talks for that memorandum began in 2018.
“The MOU aims to enhance the strategic partnership and cooperation between the PCG and VCG [Vietnam Coast Guard] toward the promotion, preservation, and protection of their mutual interest in the Southeast Asian region,” said the PCG, which was represented in the meeting by its Deputy Commandant for Administration Vice Admiral Allan Victor dela Vega.
The final version of the MOU is “almost done,” according to PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilio, with the signing expected to take place when Marcos visits Vietnam.
Vietnam is among the Southeast Asian claimant states in the South China Sea. Like the Philippines, Vietnam has had to deal with China’s claim of practically the entire South China Sea – a claim that a 2016 Arbitral Award deemed invalid.
Vietnam has several outposts in the Spratlys, an island group in the South China Sea which has features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
While Vietnamese vessels are regular voyagers in the South China Sea, there have been no recent reports of confrontations between their ships and Philippine vessels.
Hanoi, however, had rebuked the Philippines’ decision to place navigational buoys in five areas of its EEZ to claim its sovereign rights in areas of the Spratlys which Vietnam also claims. – Rappler.com